Retired Serra Catholic coach honored

Retired coach Bill Cleary after the Serra Catholic gym was named in his honor.

No one at Serra Catholic High School could ever forget Coach Bill Cleary. His girls basketball teams’ accomplishments are legendary. But officials wanted a permanent remembrance of their now retired educator and mentor.

On Dec. 10, former and current players, faculty, staff, family, friends and fans gathered in the gymnasium where so many nets were cut down and banners hung. It was time for one last celebration.

That special place is now called William J. Cleary Court.

Over the course of 34 seasons, Cleary became one of the most successful coaches in WPIAL history. His teams won 18 section titles, four WPIAL crowns and a PIAA state championship in 2005. The girls never had a losing season under his direction.

He finished his career with a 657-196 record, with the Eagles going undefeated in his final regular season. He called it “just magical.”

Cleary also served as Serra Catholic’s athletic director for 38 years, helping to more than double the number of sports offered.

And, he taught at the school for 41 years, retiring from teaching three years ago.

Principal Tim Chirdon and associate principal and athletic director Robert Childs spoke at the dedication ceremony about Coach Cleary achievements, and his stewardship of the athletic program.

The former coach expressed his gratitude for the honor of having the gymnasium named after him, and thanked all who have supported him over the decades.